The Hazards of a National Geographic Photographer...

Reality Check

This page is dedicated to Wes Skiles who died doing the work he loved. Sadie Quarrier, senior photo editor, National Geographic Magazine says:   “I was lucky enough to work with Wes as his photo editor on (his) “Bahamas Blue Holes” story for NGM. He was deeply passionate about diving, exploring, photographing and protecting the waterways… Wes was big-hearted and humble yet extremely driven. He was doggedly determined to produce the best possible article on these caves he called home. He dared to dream big, and no budget or contract would stop him from going after a shot he felt we needed, even if it was on his own dime…”

There have been other deaths over the years and many serious injuries. The posts below are recent survey responses from 45 photographers about some of the hazards encountered while on assignment for the National Geographic Society. The numbers represent individual incidents.

It's a Glamorous Life

  • 7

    Car or Bus Crash

  • 7

    Dislocations

  • 3

    Extreme Toxins

  • 2

    Fall Into Crevasse

  • 21

    Paraglider Crash

  • 1

    Spitting Cobra Attacks

  • 1

    Blinded by Wasps

  • 12

    Falls

  • 1

    Diagnosed PTSD

  • 12

    Severe Insect Problems

  • 2

    Seat Belt Releases with Helicopter Tipped Over Volcano

  • 9

    Groped

  • 8

    Giardia

  • 1

    Paraglider Crash Landing on Sea Ice

  • 5

    Robbed

  • 30

    Wound Infection

  • 1

    Hotel Surrounded by Rebels

  • 5

    Plane or Helicopter Crash

  • 2

    Stoned by Religious Group

  • 6

    Random Assault

  • 2

    Temporary Blindness

  • 4

    Burns

  • 1

    Dengue Fever

  • 1

    Held at Knifepoint

  • 1

    Viper in Camera Bag

  • 6

    Broken Ribs

  • 1

    Hunted with Bows and Arrows

  • 9

    Venomous Bites

  • 1

    Punched in Face

  • 2

    Broken Nose

  • 8

    Assorted Animal Attacks

  • 2

    Teargassed

  • 1

    Scaffolding Collapse

  • 2

    Assault by Florida panther. 2 photographers, 2 assignments, same panther.

  • 1

    Chased by Crocodile

  • 2

    Lost in Andes

  • 1

    Streaming Blood While Hanging from Harness at 1500 feet

  • 20

    Amoebic Dysentery

  • 29

    Frostbite (23 for one photographer)

  • 21

    Threatened / Detained / Abducted

  • 2

    Held at Gunpoint

  • 1

    Land on Rock Ledge After 90 Foot Fall

  • 10

    Rope Burn

  • 16

    Various Parasites

  • 3

    Beaten

  • 1

    Broken Tail Bone

  • 1

    Lost at Sea

  • 1

    Strongyloide Invasion

  • 2

    Groped

  • 1

    Meningitis

  • 1

    Flesh Eating Parasites

  • 1

    Out of Air Diving Under Oil Rig

  • 1

    Out of Air Diving Under Sea Ice

  • 19

    Severe Dehydration

  • 1

    Loa-Loa Worm in Eye

  • 90

    Severe Diarrhea

  • 3

    Imprisoned

  • 5

    Malaria

  • 4

    Tear Gassed

  • 1

    Penis Fish

  • 13

    Robbed

  • 1

    Lost on Arctic Ice

  • 1

    Paraglider Crash Landing in Tree

  • 33

    Arrest or House Arrest

  • 1

    Stabbed

  • 1

    Paraglider Crash Landing in Ocean

  • 1

    Bit by Ticks (in my penis)

  • 3

    Chased by Wild Elephant

  • 9

    Hypothermia

  • 2

    Buried in Avalanche

  • 1

    Acid Dripping Caves

  • 1

    Attack by 9,000 pound Elephant Seal

  • 4

    Broken Bones

  • 13

    Run Checkpoint

  • 3

    Trips into Chernobyl Reactor